THE experience of a lifetime both on and off the field has allowed Leeton's Keira Boots to live out a sporting dream.
Boots recently represented her country in the gridiron Women's World Championships in Finland after she was selected in the Australian Women's Outback side.
Boots moved to Sydney five years ago and that is where she first tried the sport with the Northern Sydney Rebels.
Having come so far in a short amount of time, she said it was an eye-opening experience attending the world championships.
"The standard was so high," Boots said.
"We won our last game against Sweden, which was really exciting.
"Our first game was against Canada and our next one was against Mexico. We lost both of those matches, but just being able to play against these experienced sides was really good.
"They were challenging games, but I think we went well in them.
"We played over two weeks. After each game the rule is basically each side has to have a I think around a 72-hour break because of how physically demanding the sport is.
"It's a hard-hitting sport."
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The Australian team not only traveled one of the longest distances to attend the championships, but in a training camp prior to the competition, around half the team came down with COVID.
While this wasn't an ideal preparation, Boots said the team had represented their country with pride and to the best of their ability.
"All of the teams we played against have been training together for a year, but we had a week of training together, so just based on that I think we did really well," she said.
"Gridiron as a sport works better if you have a close bond with your team mates, which we do have, but we'll be even better next time."
Boots is now preparing for the next season with the Rebels, which kicks off in the coming weeks.
She said having the experience now of playing at a high representative level would hold her in good stead.
"I've definitely learned a lot," Boots said. "On and off the field, I think I learned a lot of resilience from this whole experience. Overcoming challenges and still keeping my wits about me.
"It was something I won't forget." Boots said she wouldn't have been able to attend the world championships if it wasn't for the support of the Leeton shire community.
"Everyone really got behind me and the Go Fund Me page which was set up ... the Yanco-Wamoon Women's Auxiliary also did some fundraising for people and a lot of businesses donated to raffles," she said.
"I'm grateful to everyone."
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